Our hostess in Missoula is Lyndsay, a transplant over a decade ago from Akron, Ohio and her boyfriend who is at least from Montana, Billings, to be exact. He is very nice, but I can't quite understand her. She is a very slight thing who rents out the master bedroom of her very small home on a very modest street. She has three huge, barreling, barking dogs, one of which is Lena, who likes to play with Poppy, despite a very large size advantage. Lyndsay has large brown eyes and when I ask a question about Missoula, she looks completely offended, until she answers with emphatic friendliness. I can't tell if she hates me or wants to be my friend. People have told me that I am hard to read and I wonder if this is how they feel when they can't quite figure me out. That thought does not sit well with me (note to self: work on being more accurately expressive) and I decide to give Lyndsay the benefit of the doubt, she is just a hard to read, friendly person.
|Poppy and Lena|
I like the idea of staying in a residential community rather than in a hotel/motel, it gives you a better idea of what it might be like to live there. The previous night, I learned about the river trail, a park trail system that runs along the Clark Fork River, the river that runs through downtown Missoula. I awoke early with Poppy and took her for a "barefoot" run/walk along the trail. When I say "barefoot" I mean my Vibram FiveFingers shoes, the "barefoot" running shoes that I have been acclimating to over that last month. Other than a few sprints with the dog across the park, this is my first real attempt to run in them. It is a beautiful morning and we meet several friendly dog owners who allow their dogs to play with Poppy (good for Poppy, not great for keeping my heart rate elevated). The trail goes through a tunnel to a nice riverside park which I admire for about 30 seconds before a herd of shirtless, young runners burst from the tunnel and stampede past us. We continue on along the river, with obscured views of downtown, the air is cool and dry.
|Morning Run in Missoula|
Missoula is a small city in a flat valley (my observation) created by five different mountain ranges, which cause it to have some of the mildest winters in Montana (something I read). It seems that several mountains on the east and north appear to rise right from the edge of town, in one long, sweeping carpet of dry, golden grassland.
|Hills rise behind Missoula|
|Missoula and the Clark Fork River|
|Sitting outside of Justin's Hob Nob|
|Walking in downtown Missoula|
|Sitting outside the coffee shop|
|This water is a little intimidating to Poppy.|
|Poppy dipped a couple of paws in the creek.|
|Dry landscape around Missoula|
|The road toward the pine covered mountains.|
|The end of the road, in the forest.|
|An intriguing gravel road outside of Missoula.|
|A typical neighborhood outside of Missoula.|
|On our way to Caras Park|
|The food trucks and booths at Caras Park.|
|A tattoo, only in Montana?|
|The sun begins to set in Caras Park.|
|Fly fishing next to the park.|